The Challenge of Developing Sales Engineers

A large well-known technology company has a group of sales engineers that were recently evaluated.  When we ran the analysis on the data, it was clear that most of the 60 sales engineers preferred to be on the engineering side and not the sales side.  They lack the desire to be successful salespeople, they don’t enjoy selling, they aren’t money motivated and they aren’t committed.  So before we can even worry about what they have or don’t have in the way of selling skills, these findings tell us that they can’t be developed, have no incentive to change and shouldn’t be in sales.

But there’s a problem.  This group is Japanese and some believe that the cultural difference is to blame; but I’m not buying it. The only real cultural difference between Eastern selling and Western selling is that the Eastern cultures are based on respect and personal relationships.

If it’s clear that the group I described in the first paragraph shouldn’t be in sales, then they shouldn’t be in sales regardless of which country they happen to live in.  Enjoying what you do is not culture specific.  How hard would you work to improve at something you don’t like to do?  Personally, I think I’m going to invest in some lessons so I can improve at taking out the trash, doing the dishes and bringing in the dry-cleaning, three of my all-time “favorites”.  On the other hand, even though I totally suck at golf (compared with how I believe I should be playing), I’ll invest time and money to improve because I love it.

Do all of your salespeople love to sell or is it their job?